Want to compose your documents by voice instead of by keystrokes?
Mom probably never thought that her advice to ‘think before you speak’ applied to technical speaking, but today, that’s all you really need to do to use dictation software.
Current systems are so reliable that even a child’s voice can serve as a suitable input. Not that you’d want baby Kaylie dictating court proceedings, but it’s technologically possible. If you were going to choose Kaylie’s voice, the setup might look something like this:
Benevolent types only
Fortunately, two decades of steady improvements have untethered the technical speaker from desktops in quiet rooms. You could say that technical speaking is as easy as chattering on a cel phone – if you know exactly what you’re about to say.
a new decade
Happy new year, and now the great debate begins… How to say the next decade. Words from the last decade got sorted out. It wasn’t the more familiar sounding “nine-one-one” that stuck but rather “nine-eleven”. I don’t recall a debate about calling the 2000-2009 period the ‘oughts’. Is that even how you say it?
Two things are for certain; the year 2000 happened with nary a Y2K glitch, and the XXI Olympic Winter Games are called the 2010 Winter Olympics. Psst, just say ‘twenty-ten’ and everyone will catch on.
That was the translation offered by an Asian gentleman as I paid for a bus pass. I had to know if the same symbol represented both money and dollars.
Another day, another money
They appeared to be different enough but conceptually the idiom worked. Learning the global language of money one idiom at a time. Next up:
- sixty-four-thousand-dollar question
- phony as a three-dollar bill
- day late and a dollar short
- bet dollars to donuts
My editor friend likes to do canning so we go to the farmers market for a shopping spree. First stop is for raspberries and maybe blueberries. The stocks are plentiful so where do we begin? Ah, the vendor advertising berries at way below price. Gotta love a bargain and this was a deal – three boxes of raspberries OR blueberries for a dollar.
We began to mix and match pints. I handed the vendor a loonie for my haul. She looked puzzled, then motioned for another coin. Huh? My friend and I were paying separately I motioned back. She made a weird smile then pointed to the handmade sign.
Fresh local berries
5 for 2
3 for 1
I reread it, as did my friend. Price check please. Even with a number crossed out and a dollar sign inserted it read/we read five for two dollars…
Why didn’t the berry seller know the convention: units then cost. Disappointed, we took our business to a competitor with conventional signage.
A few months back I commented on the parts of technical writing I enjoy–the nuance of language, a collegial atmosphere. This month I’m adding another aspect, summer interns.
international interns, chapter advisors, and competition manager
I’ve been fortunate to work with a group of international students on a not-for-profit project. They’ve taken on planning an event for the Fall. Short of registering their friends and family they are promoting the event in every possible way. They’ve created a plan, designed a logo, multiplied the database and learned a bit about technical writing too. The students became organized as any product team might except that their buzz was about learning English, not launching a product.
International students find internships to practice speaking and listening, reading and writing in English. Passing those skills on a proficiency exam is a key to their future.